The coronavirus pandemic has caused the world to flip upside down, with businesses continuing to shift operations as companies adapt to the new normal. As stay-at-home restrictions ease up and industries begin to open their doors, Time’s Up has released guidelines for equitable and inclusive practices in the workplace to help leaders respond to the crisis in the safest and most responsible way possible.
Time’s Up was launched by Hollywood celebrities as a direct response to sexual harassment allegations across the entertainment business in early 2018, but the advocacy group and its legal defense fund supports individuals across all industries.
The Time’s Up Guide to Equity and Inclusion During Crisis, released on Wednesday, offers practical guidance for employers to properly care for employees and equalize the workplace, in light of the unprecedented affects of the pandemic. The guidelines were put together by diversity and inclusion experts, researchers and leaders from across more than 20 companies with over 700,000 people working across a variety of industries.
During the COVID-19 crisis, women, especially women of color, have been hit the hardest economically, with more than half of the 20.5 million jobs lost in April belonging to women. The sectors of business that have been impacted the most by the pandemic employ an over-representation of women of color, according to a Harvard Business Review study that detailed U.S. unemployment rising faster for women and people of color. Besides jobs lost, caregiving responsibilities among women have drastically increased with schools and childcare centers closed.
“Now, in this moment of crisis, we as employers have a responsibility to rebuild our economy and society to be more inclusive and equitable — not just for women, but for all of us,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up.
The guidelines relate specifically to the entertainment industry, especially content distributors and production companies by addressing their corporate policies.
“What is equally important for leaders in entertainment to look at right now are their creative practices,” Ngoc Nguyen, head of entertainment for the Time’s Up Foundation, tells Variety, adding that Hollywood executives in positions of power should be asking crucial questions such as: “What filmmakers do they have on their slate? What stories are they greenlighting? And are those narratives appropriately representative of all audiences?”
The pandemic should influence storytelling, and inspire new film and television content that draws from the experiences of those deeply impacted by the pandemic. And, Time’s Up is hopeful that smaller, indie productions will be given a chance to highlight the voices of new creators, who will be more relevant than ever.
“When it comes to the COVID-19 crisis, women and people of color have been disproportionately affected,” Nguyen says. “These underrepresented voices carry critically important stories to tell coming out of this crisis that need to be reflected in what we see on the screen.”
“We urge executives in the industry to not only look at their corporate policies, but also to consider the impact of diversity among their artists and creators,” Nguyen added. “When we change who is telling the stories, the stories themselves change.”
According to Time’s Up, before the pandemic hit, business leaders were improving their inclusive and equitable practices toward diversity in the workplace, and the group hopes these new guidelines will help retain that positive momentum.
The guide includes best practices toward realizing the impact of laying off and furloughing women and people of color; recognizing the added responsibilities of caregivers; recognizing the impact the pandemic has on employees’ personal lives; and ensuring that social distancing does not negatively impact work culture or prohibit the career advancement of people of color, people with disabilities, people of older age or people within the LGBTQIA+ community.
For the full guide from Time’s Up, click here.